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If Sales is the engine of growth in a business, then the efficiency of an AWS partner’s sales operations is a leading indicator of how successful their salespeople will be, how fast the business will grow, and how much business AWS will share with them.

4 responsibilities of AWS Partner Sales Operations.

AWS Partner Sales Operations has to manage many moving pieces co-selling with AWS.. Not only does growth depend on the orchestration of these moving pieces, but doing so efficiently in the current economic climate – growing without adding more resources and cost of sales – is a strong economic advantage.

At the heart of this orchestration, on the partner side, is the partner’s SalesOps team. While varying from partner to partner, there are four common responsibilities:

CRM Codify and enforce sales and revenue processes into a customer relationship management tool such as Salesforce (known as “shift-left” where good practice is built into the tool, rather than done as a last-step QA exercise).
Sales SalesOps works closely with account executives to guide their opportunities efficiently and successfully through the pipeline to close/won, and help CROs with dashboards and reports for management.
Guardrails As an enforcer of standards, they have downstream accountability that all closed deals are closed correctly and the revenue numbers are correct and will not require revision.
Partners SalesOps works with an alliance manager and their peers at AWS to ensure their books “tally” and that opportunities flow both ways, ironing out any problems.

These are common sales ops responsibilities. There are also common pain points.

3 AWS Partner Sales Operations pain points.

There are numerous challenges getting in the way of SalesOps doing the best job they can.

Hitting these challenges impacts the entire business because SalesOps play an integral role in the core business revenue process.

The pain points suffered by SalesOps are:

More effort Fewer deals Data confusion
Their source of truth, their CRM, is no longer the single source of truth: AWS has their own CRM, in ACE, and therefore these systems need constant reconciliation. This adds significant manual effort that impacts efficiency. If the team experiences pain when selling AWS opportunities, it’ll disincentivize them to share those opportunities with AWS. An opportunity registered in ACE and fulfilled by an AWS Marketplace creates two separate, confusing threads that need more effort to coordinate.

AWS partners that suffer these pain points ‌are likely to report that staff are reluctant to co-sell with AWS, which leads to fewer deals, longer sales cycles, and offers that aren’t competitive because they don’t have the benefit of being backed by AWS.

An indicator of not solving these challenges is the impact on the partner’s progression through the AWS tiers. All AWS partners want to ascend the APN tiers because the more recognition and benefits from AWS, which in turn power the flywheel.

The best way to see these challenges is to walk through a co-sell example.

A walk through a typical co-sell opportunity fulfilled in AWS Marketplace.

From the beginning of a new opportunity to one closed and fulfilled via AWS Marketplace, the process goes something like this.

The point of this table is to show how many hand-offs and touch points the partner sales exec or sales operations has to track for every opportunity.

Partner → CRM Partner sales exec gets an opportunity with Acme Corp, updates their CRM and wants to register it with AWS.
Partner → ACE Sales exec switches from their CRM, logs on to the APN Portal, and registers all the same details on ACE.
AWS → ACE AWS field sales gives feedback on the ACE opportunity. Depending on the response, the partner sales exec needs to take some action and update their own CRM to match ACE.
Partner → CRM
Partner → ACE
The sales exec does some work on the deal and each update in their CRM needs to be mirrored on the APN Portal, in ACE.
CLOSED/WON Eventually, the sales exec wins the opportunity and the customer wants to buy/fulfill via an AWS Marketplace private offer.
Partner → CRM
Partner → Marketplace
Partner → ACE
The sales exec has to update their own CRM and APN Portal ACE …. AND … then needs to log into AWS Marketplace Portal to create a new private offer…
More effort
Time elapses
There is more back-and-forth in Marketplace, ACE and the partner CRM and the sales exec – and the SalesOps team – are exhausted.
Frustration arises
Other deals wait
The sales exec and sales operations team feel like there is a lot of wasted time in each opportunity and crave efficiency.
Partner → CRM
Partner → Marketplace
Partner → ACE
Deal completes.

In an attempt to streamline the process, the sales exec “hands off” opportunities to be managed by sales operations, but this adds more tracking and updates and makes the problem worse.

Given the importance of AWS partner sales operations, the challenges they face and the complexity of manual opportunity tracking with Marketplace deals — how can they improve things?

4 ways to improve AWS Partner Sales operations.

If an opportunity is a co-sell with AWS – and especially if it is fulfilled via the AWS Marketplace –  then there are two problems to solve.

  • How do we make AWS ACE co-sell deals more efficient?
  • How do we make AWS Marketplace private offers more efficient?

There are four approaches to solving these problems to overcome the challenges and grow the AWS partner business through the APN tiers:

1. THROW HEADCOUNT AT IT.

You could add more headcount – more hands, eyes, and brains can handle more deals – but you’re adding cost and still not solving the problem. AWS partners that tried this report the problem gets worse, not easier, the more people you add because you need to track everyone’s work.

More people is not the answer.

2. USE A HOME-GROWN TECHNICAL SOLUTION.

Some people develop their own code to glue together their CRM, ACE, and Marketplace Portal – even involving Google Sheets as an additional step. If you have engineering talent, you could redirect them away from revenue-generating customer projects to an internal project…

…but this venture into “homegrown custom code” means diverting your scarce resources into solving a problem that isn’t your core competency. And even if you manage to automate it… systems change and people demand new features, so there’s ongoing maintenance effort and cost.

Office automation or home-grown code is not the answer.

3. USE THE FREE AWS SALESFORCE CRM CONNECTOR

Unfortunately, the AWS connector only does basic synchronization between the partner Salesforce CRM and the APN Portal ACE. More and more businesses fulfill via AWS Marketplace, so that problem still exists. Plus, many partners don’t use Salesforce and need a solution for Hubspot or Connectwise. You also have to enrich this solution with your own CRM workflows to make it work. Otherwise, it’s still manual.

AWS Salesforce CRM Connector is not the answer.

4. GET A PURPOSE-BUILT SOLUTION FOR THIS SPECIFIC PROBLEM.

The answer to this triangulation between partner CRM, APN Portal ACE, and AWS Marketplace Portal, is to solve it inside the partner’s CRM.

CRMs are extensible through their own marketplace applications, and this is how the Labra Platform solves the problem inside the partner’s CRM.

Staff want to work with their familiar tools and not have Yet Another Tool added to their plate.

This is how it works:

Manage opportunities from your CRM Manage private offers from your CRM
You register, share, track and manage everything about AWS co-sell opportunities from your CRM: you don’t need to log on to APN Portal ACE. You create, approve and manage AWS Marketplace private offers from your CRM: you don’t need to log on to the AWS Marketplace Portal.

The benefit of this approach is to give the power to sales execs and sales operations via the tools they use every day.

This is the most efficient solution because:

  • You don’t need more headcount.
  • Focus your finite resources on home-grown solutions.
  • You are solving the whole problem (co-sell and marketplace), not half.
  • You aren’t wasting money on a generic PRM that doesn’t solve this unique problem.
Conclusion

Sales are the engine of growth in a business, and sales operations are tasked with making this engine efficient. There are a number of problems that make each sale harder than it needs to be. There are a few solutions to these problems and the one that works the best is moving all AWS sales operations into your CRM with the Labra platform.

More resources
  • Find out how to co-sell with AWS from your CRM with Labra
  • Find out how to do AWS Marketplace operations from your CRM with Labra
  • Get in touch with Labra and ask us anything about optimizing AWS partner sales operations.

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